Solar Panels

Making hay whilst the sun shines!

This week we have had the very exciting installation of our solar panels. I had actually been really nervous about the project up until now as I really didn’t feel that I understood it enough. But the Technical Director at the solar company has been great in providing me with a lot of evidence, data and explanations and now that I can see it in action I am so pleased!

The installation was so quick and easy, and the system is connected to some great reporting apps that show us what we are generating, using and selling which is not only really interesting (if not a bit addictive) but is already making us change our behaviour to save energy and money.

For example, we are now running the dishwasher during daylight hours and today I am putting on the washing machine whilst the sun is out so that I am using our solar energy rather than selling it back to the grid for a lot less than I have to pay for it!

So at one point today, as you can see in the first myenergi photo, I was running the house electricity (including the washing machine) and even have some left over energy to heat my hot water tank which will mean that I won’t need to use so much gas to heat it later. The other photo shows a bit later on when it was a bit more cloudy where although we were producing less we still managed to cover our useage and sell the excess back to the grid.

We are still waiting for the battery (there is a long waiting list) but when we do we should hopefully be able to be pretty much self-sufficient and have a lot more flexibility, but for now the system is already saving us money and is really helpful in showing us how we can rethink our habits.

I had actually already started thinking about this over the last few months as we have been participating in the Energy Saving Sessions run by Octopus (and a few other suppliers) where they give you credit on your account for saving energy during certain peak times. Their reasoning being:

“Currently, the UK often has to fire up extra dirty coal and gas stations to satisfy everyone’s energy needs at the busiest times of day. Rather than paying these (very expensive) fossil fuel generators to turn on, when demand is high, we want to reward people for switching off or delaying the energy they don’t need. Not only will this cut carbon emissions – it helps balance the energy system, and allows us to make the most of green energy when the sun’s shining and the wind’s blowing.”

I have opted into 11 of the sessions over the last few months, usually on a weekday evening sometime between about 4-6pm and normally for only an hour. The sessions aren’t just about reducing our useage but more about changing our timings and I was actually really surprised at how much I was able to adjust my habits. For example, I cooked dinner a bit earlier or later, made the kids do their homework instead of TV or computers at that time and where possible spent that hour together in one or two rooms so that we could turn off unwanted lights.

Home energy use contributes about 15% of all the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and so it really is a big area that we can all have direct impact on as individuals.

Unfortunately, not everyone can produce their own power but everyone does have the power to adjust the way that they use it.